Priest raped a 14-year-old girl while his mother watched
FR. MACARIO APUYA, SVD 1998
On 16 October 1998, most of the national newspapers carried identical stories about a priest who allegedly raped a girl while his mother watched.
In the city of Dagupan, north of Metro Manila, Fr. Macario Apuya, SVDof the Saint Therese Parish, was accused of two criminal charges, one charge of rape and one of child abuse as defined under R. A. No. 7610. Initially referred to the local DSWD, the case was subsequently handled by Atty. Mallonga. The case had historical significance since it was the very first time that a priest was being prosecuted for pedophilia in the Philippines. Apuya was incarcerated in the Quezon City jail for almost three years during the whole time the case was on trial.
The girl told authorities that sometime October 1997, she heeded the request of the priest's mother to accompany her and the priest to Vigan, Ilocos Sur, to attend the fiesta in that town. She later found out that there was no fiesta. On the third night, the victim claimed she woke up when she felt Apuya already forcing himself on her. She failed to resist, claiming she was overwhelmed with threats on her and her siblings' lives and that his mother was silently watching her abuse. At the time, the girl was a 14-year old minor while Apuya was 52 years old. She also claimed that she had sexual intercourse with Apuya on occasions after the alleged rape.
The victim was introduced to Apuya through Malou, a 17-year old girl who would bring her to Apuya's mass and then visit him in the convent. Apuya would often take both girls out for snacks and would wander through the mall where he would buy small gifts for the victim.
The girl related that on 7 September 1997, she, Malou and another friend were stranded in Dagupan and ended up spending the night in Apuya's parish. He ushered them to his bedroom in the convent where he allegedly brought them food and wine. She also stated that Apuya had instructed them that Malou was to sleep with him on the bed, while she and her friend were to sleep on the floor. Later that night, her friend woke her up sensing something was wrong. She turned towards the bed and saw Apuya totally naked on top of an equally naked Malou. Nothing else was said among them even as they saw Apuya gave Malou PHp 300 pesos after the incident, with the latter swearing them to secrecy.
During one hearing, the defense counsel agitated the child as the former asked her repeatedly about details of the sexual abuse incident reprehensible tactic applied to one already traumatized by abuse. This led the child to walk out of the hearing. When asked by defense counsel where she was going, the child replied, "Ang pangit mo!" ("You're ugly!"). Unbelievably, the judge who heard this case decided on 20 December 2002 that this show of aggression by the child could only evidence one thing that she could have also retaliated and defended herself against Apuya's alleged abuse. He also ruled that the case could not have been possible in the first place. The judge, who is a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic, could not imagine either a clergy abusing a minor or that a cleric's mother allow and/or condone her priest son to commit such abuse. In Judge Abednego Adre's words:
" the claim that the mother of the accused asked about the complainant's menstrual cycle and if she could be used by her son borders on the incredible. No mother would do that on behalf of a son who is a priest, unless she was a pervert or out of her mind. That at the moment she was being ravished the old woman was at the doorway silently watching made the story worse. Even pagan mothers would not countenance such indecent act openly and in their presence, much more a normal, conservative mother whose cherished dream of having a son, poor as they were, spend life in the service of God and his people was already a reality."
As fittingly critiqued by Wilkinson, what appears incredible is that "an uneducated girl of 14 could make up such a story. There have been many stories in recent years of wives assisting their own husbands to rape children. To normal people, this may appear incredible, but it nevertheless has proven true."
In his decision, Judge Adre also stated that:
"Nothing of substance came out although creditably the complainant stood her ground and reiterated what she declared during the presentation of the evidence in chief of the prosecution."
This was a strange admission of the court in view of what the decision later stated:
"The glaring inconsistencies and improbabilities during the long and intense cross questioning cast serious doubts on the veracity of the accounts given and the veraciousness of the complainant."
However, the Philippine Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that variance as to the time and date of the rape do not generally diminish the complainant's credibility. This is established jurisprudence that has obviously passed the notice of Judge Adre.
Based on all this, the accused priest was acquitted of rape and child abuse charges by Judge Adre of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court. The administrative case against Apuya was rendered moot and academic by the acquittal.
The judge ended his decision with the sentence:
"The accused may have been a flirt, he might have nearly crossed the threshold of perdition but certainly he was no child molester, much less rapist."
One is left with no other choice but to agree with Wilkinson's conclusions. "The message given by the court is very clear. If your child is sexually molested or abused by a priest in the Philippines then better forget it. The church hierarchy will do nothing about it and neither will law enforcement agencies. Even if it does get to court, the accusers will be judicially insulted by being called troublemakers. It will be interesting to find out just what duties Father Apuya will be given by his church. Let us hope it does not allow him to "help" any other poor young girls."
Wilkinson, Earl K. People Priests and Pedophiles. Manila: International Research Foundation
In the Bacolod Diocese there have been scandals involving priests who absconded with hundreds of thousands of pesos. Including, in one instance, bringing along one of the female devotees as "wife".
These cases have been swept under the rug. Not only by local parishioners, but including those abroad. Once, one of these pastors reportedly ended up almost charged for failure to pay his San Francisco hotel bills. Another Filipino rushed to his rescue and averted a major embarrassment.